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Uber has big plans for Europe, but it has some major hurdles to cross first

So far the ride-sharing service has run into roadblocks from Brussels to Madrid.

Image: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Updated at 4.45pm

THE BOSS OF ride-sharing service Uber says his company could create 50,000 jobs across Europe as part of a “new partnership” with cities.

But Travis Kalanick told a technology conference in Munich the change would only come if local authorities changed rules that were capping the growth of his service.

“We want to make 2015 the year where we establish a new partnership with new European cities,” he said.

“At the end of 2015, if we make these partnerships happen, we’ll create 50,000 new EU jobs.”

Kalanick also said expanding Uber in Europe could take 400,000 vehicles off the roads and ease traffic jams through more efficient use of peoples’ cars.

“If we can find a regulatory framework that makes this a reality, we can promise jobs and less congestion,” he said.

Hitting roadblocks

The company has run into roadblocks everywhere from Brussels to Madrid, as well as in several countries outside the region.

Taxi drivers have complained its services, which range from ride-sharing in private vehicles to making hire cars available as taxis, unfairly threaten their businesses.

Uber has also faced hurdles from city officials who complain it exposes passengers to unregulated drivers.

The company already faces potential legal action in the US over the alleged rape of an Indian woman by an Uber driver in New Delhi, while Kalanick has been indicted in South Korea on charges of running an illegal taxi service.

Institute of Directors annual conference - London Uber CEO and founder Travis Kalanick Source: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Recently it was criticised for its surge-pricing model which meant passengers in Sydney escaping the armed siege in the city’s CBD paid up to four times the usual cost of the trip.

Kalanick, whose company is valued at about $40 billion (€34.5 billion) on its latest fundraising round, agreed there was a need to look at better checks for its drivers and it was working with governments to come up with suitable rules.

In Ireland Uber has largely escaped controversy since launching in Dublin last year as it only offers rides in licensed taxis or private hire vehicles.

The controversial surge pricing is also outlawed under local rules which ban charging more than the metered fare, although the company has reportedly been offering cash incentives to drivers so its users don’t have to wait for taxis at peak times.

Kalanick said Uber had already created the equivalent of 35,000 full-time jobs across its biggest markets of San Francisco, New York, London and Paris.

READ: These were the bumper industries for Irish startups last year >

READ: Taxi driver tied up and robbed in Naas hijacking >

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About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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